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News Report: Chamber chairman asks the govt to delay audit requirement on large companies

Published by Chester Robards, The Nassau Guardian, December 13th, 2023

In his first press statement as chairman of the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers’ Confederation (BCCEC), Timothy Ingraham, on behalf of the business community, is calling on the government to delay its requirement for businesses with turnover of more than $5 million to have audited accounts by April next year. He contended that the Department of Inland Revenue (DIR) has other ways of targeting companies not paying adequate taxes for now.

“The Chamber is of the opinion that this timeline is too aggressive for most of the impacted businesses,” said Ingraham.

He explained that the delay will allow for a smooth implementation of the audit requirement, explaining that the current timeline is too aggressive for the companies that fall into the category requiring the new audit process.

Ingraham added that there are also other questions and concerns that have to answered before implementation. He pointed out that businesses will need time to compile the level of documentation that the audit requires.

“An audit demands that businesses maintain very detailed financial records, and these must be assembled over a period of time. Many Bahamian businesses have not traditionally maintained this detailed level of financial records,” Ingraham’s statement said.

“A delay of 12 months will allow the impacted businesses to prepare these records. To force some businesses into an audit at this time could lead to many failed audits.

“In previous talks with the government leading up to the 2023 budget, The Chamber had urged the government to delay the implementation of this requirement to allow businesses time to prepare. We are now renewing this call.

“The local audit sector is already challenged to meet the deadline for existing clients, and this requirement at this time will add further stress to their resources. A one-year delay allows audit firms to ensure that they have the necessary resources available.

“Audits will add a significant expense to the costs of some of these businesses, with a typical audit costing anywhere from $20,000 and up. No doubt this expense will have to be passed on to the customer. Given the high cost of living Bahamians are experiencing now, this is not the right time to implement this requirement.”

Ingraham said the tools in the DIR’s arsenal to target companies paying less taxes than they should can be used for the next 12 months, until the audit requirement kinks are worked out.

He said it is hoped the government will consider this request by the business community while the discussions around the requirement continues.

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